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The Rediff Special/Ehtasham Khan
September 27, 2004
I was cheated!"
That is what a shocked Taufeeq, the 'loser' in the media debate on Gudiya, had to say about the whole affair.
Taufeeq's world started crumbling the day soldier Mohammed Arif, Gudiya's first husband, returned after a four-year disappearance. But Gudiya gave him hope. "She was confident. She said she was scared because of all the pressure on her, but promised to stay with me," Taufeeq recalled.
Now, after the strange public climax to the stranger loved-and-lost-and-found saga, Taufeeq has left home and is trying to find solace in work. He hasn't spoken to his parents, but is in touch with friends.
"I have been cheated. I don't know what to do. They took my Gudiya away. I still love her," Taufeeq told rediff.com
The Zee News programme last Tuesday beamed on prime time decided the fate of three people – Gudiya, Arif and Taufeeq. Islamic scholars and clerics assembled in the studio gave the verdict: Gudiya belongs to Arif. Her marriage with Taufeeq was annulled as 'anti-Islamic'.
Arif, a soldier in the Indian Army, had returned from Pakistan after four years in prison. By then, Gudiya had married Taufeeq, without, however, obtaining a divorce from Arif. This, the scholars said, was un-Islamic.
Even as Gudiya's tale of horror raised the TRP of Zee News, many criticised the channel for making a hapless woman's ordeal public.
As Arif took Gudiya home after the public drama, Taufeeq was speechless. He didn't go home to Pataudi near Gurgaon, on the outskirts of Delhi. Instead, he went to the neighbouring village of Firozpur Jhirka, where he works as a supervisor in a private health clinic. He is staying with a friend there now.
Taufeeq's father, Mohammad Ishteyaq, said, "He is not speaking to us. He is quite upset. We don't know what to say. He will come back one day."
After a lot of persuasion, Taufeeq agreed to speak to rediff.com on the phone. "I knew her [Gudiya] since childhood. We are relatives. I met her several times after Arif disappeared. I liked her," he swore.
Gudiya married Arif in 1999. She lived with him for just 10 days in Mundali village in Meerut district, Uttar Pradesh, about 75km from Delhi. Immediately afterwards, Arif was called for duty when hostilities broke out at Kargil. He was captured by the Pakistanis in September 1999.
When Arif was declared a 'deserter' by the army, Gudiya lost all hope. Her in-laws then sent her to her parents in Kalunda village near Delhi. Her parents waited for Arif for about four years in accordance with Islamic law, after which they started looking for a suitable match for her. Gudiya's uncle Riyasat Ali then proposed her marriage with Taufeeq.
He was young (22), educated, and earning enough to take care of a family. He had passed class XII and completed a certificate course in computers. He was one of the most eligible bachelors in the village, said pradhan (village head) Abdul Jaleel.
"Taufeeq could have married any bachelor girl," Jaleel said. "But he accepted Gudiya because he liked her. She was considered a widow that time. He didn't even take any dowry because her parents were poor. We all praised his decision."
Says Taufeeq, "I agreed to marry her when my uncle put the proposal before me. I never thought of the future and I never expected this. It was unthinkable that time." They lived happily for about a year and were expecting a child. With Gudiya in an advanced stage of pregnancy, Taufeeq left her with her parents, as is the tradition among many Indian families.
Then, in mid-August, Arif reappeared! People started talking about the validity of her marriage with Taufeeq. She had not asked the qazi (religious head of the town, supposed to be an expert in Islamic jurisprudence) to nullify her marriage with Arif.
Taufeeq said that when the neighbours and maulanas (clerics) starting persuading Gudiya to go back to Arif, she fell sick and had to be admitted to hospital.
"I was in touch with her on the telephone," he remembered. "I didn't panic because she knew where she belonged. She said she was scared, but promised to stay with me."
Taufeeq spoke to her father, who maintained he was on his side. But he was also negotiating with Arif, Taufeeq alleged. "He told me that he had asked Arif to divorce Gudiya. But he was lying. He was actually persuading him to take her back.
"Gudiya was aware of this and told me that she was scared. The community leaders were blackmailing her saying our child would become illegitimate. Her father threatened to commit suicide."
Taufeeq believes her father was influenced by the fact that Arif was now a celebrity and in a better financial position than him.
Taufeeq last spoke to Gudiya on Monday, a week before the television appearance. By Saturday, she was taken to the Naurangabad panchayat and handed over to Arif without informing Taufeeq or his family. Three days later, the television drama happened, by which time it was too late for her to return to Taufeeq.
"They had pressured her too much," he said. "She was mentally tortured. I didn't want to push the case fearing they would torture her further. She is in an advanced stage of pregnancy."
But Taufeeq felt cheated by the way in which Zee TV reporters took him to the studio without informing him about the debate that had been arranged there. "I was not prepared. I could not present my points. I could not say anything because many scholars were speaking in favour of Arif."
Meanwhile, Arif has his own love story to tell. He recalls how he spent almost five years in prison thinking about her. "I was in prison with my colleague Jasgir Singh," he said. "I know everything about him and he knows all my secrets. He was the only one there to whom I expressed my love for Gudiya. I had told him that we would meet one day.
"When I reached the Wagah border, my sister-in-law told me that Gudiya was now married to someone else. My mother had also died. I was completely broken.
"But the happiness of coming back gave me confidence."
Arif admitted he had lost hope of getting Gudiya back. "But her father met me and told me that I could have her back. This raised my hopes. I could have married someone else, but I loved her. Moreover, it was the Shariat [Islamic law] that forced me to get her back. Her marriage with Taufeeq was un-Islamic."
Arif has accepted Gudiya and is willing to take care of Taufeeq's unborn baby. But he has a word of caution: "I cannot give my name to the child. He belongs to Taufeeq. I will tell him when he grows up. That is his fate. It is not my fault. That is what the Shariat says."
Earlier story: Gudiya's ordeal